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Reading Specialist Certification

Program of Study

The Masters Degree in Reading program is a nationally recognized program of study, approved by the International Reading Association (July 2012) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (April 2013).   This program of study adheres to the International Reading Association Code of Ethics


  • The Reading Specialist certificate may be obtained in the Master of Education in Reading and Reading Specialist programs only as an added certificate to a valid Pennsylvania Instructional I or II teaching certificate.  The teaching certificate needs to be in an area which includes coursework in reading. (e.g., secondary education, elementary education, special education, early childhood).
  • Effective January 1, 2011: The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has enacted legislation which is reflected in Chapter 49-2 requirements regarding certification programs. Chapter 49-2 requirements for the Accommodations and Adaptations of English Language Learners (ELL) stipulate at least 9 credits (270 hours) of coursework in Special Education and at least 3 credits (90 hours) of coursework in English as a Second Language.  All certification candidates who enroll in a certification program after January 1, 2011 will need to meet the PDE requirements unless they have met these requirements in a previous certificate. Please know that the Foundation and Application Level coursework in the Graduate Reading program already has embedded 6 credits (180 hours) in Special Education. 

Reading Specialist Certification

Available to those who already hold a Master of Education degree and seek Reading Specialist certification.  If you are interested in pursuing a Master of Education degree, go to Master of Education with Reading Specialist Certification

Program Completion Requirements:

  • Valid Pennsylvania Instructional I or II certificate*
  • 27 credit hours (additional coursework may be required to satisfy the PDE Chapter 49-2 regulations)
  • Comprehensive Program Portfolio
  • Praxis Reading Specialist Exam

*Applicants who hold out-of-state certification or invalid PA certificates, may be admitted conditionally, but will not be able to complete the program until they hold a valid PA Instructional I certificate.

This Graduate Reading Program is designed to lead to Reading Specialist certification.  The program of study will prepare reading specialists/literacy coaches who can plan, implement, and maintain on-going instructional programs in literacy.  Additionally, it provides teachers with the ability to recognize and work effectively with learners who have varying degrees of success in reading and learning.

Applicants who hold a valid Pennsylvania Instructional I or II Certificate, have a Master in Education Degree, successfully completed all required reading education courses, and take and pass the Praxis Reading Specialist Exam will be recommended to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for certification.

Program Completion: All students accepted into the programs described above must complete all requirements within six (6) calendar years.  

Application Information: To apply for either the Masters of Education in Reading program (which includes Reading Specialist certification) or for the Reading Specialist certification program, visit the Graduate Admissions website and follow the application procedures. For this program, the admissions requirement of an acceptable score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) may be satisfied by any one of the following:

  • Passing score on the Praxis II examinations
  • Passing score on the National Teacher Examination
  • Ten years teaching experience in an elementary or secondary school with appropriate certification

Three Application Form/ Recommendation Forms must be used for recommendations in the application packet.  Recommendations should be requested from professionals in the field, e.g., principal, professional colleague, university professor.  Download the form.

Application for Candidacy: All students accepted into the program (excluding those on probationary status) should make application for candidacy after completion of between twelve (12) and twenty-four (24) graduate credits with an academic average of 3.0.  At least six (6) credits must be from the area of specialization. Students should download the Application for Candidacy Form from the Graduate Studies website, complete the form, obtain his/her advisor's signature, and forward the application to the Registrar's Office, 115 Stratton Administration Center.  Candidacy must be obtained at least one semester before the degree is granted.

Program Requirements

I. Required Coursework (27 hours)

  • Foundation Level Courses (15  hours)
    • EDU 502 Seminar in Research Foundations Pertinent to Reading
    • EDU 504 Literacy Curriculum & Instruction: Pre K-3
    • EDU 506 Literacy Curriculum & Instruction: Grades 4-8
    • EDU 513 Literacy Curriculum & Instruction: Adolescent - High School
    • EDU 514 The Reading Specialist & Intensified Instruction
  • Application Level Courses (12 hours)
    • EDU 574 Assessment of Reading: Clinical Practicum in Reading Diagnosis  (PREREQUISITES: all Foundation Level courses
    • EDU 579 Practicum in Literacy Instruction: Struggling Readers and Writers (PREREQUISITES : EDU 574 and admission to candidacy); six credits
    • EDU 577 Leadership for Reading Educators  (PREREQUISITES: all Foundation Level courses)

Program Checksheets

II. Required Electives (9 hours)

Candidates are advised to select electives that will benefit them as reading specialists/literacy coaches.  Courses related to diversity, children's literature, writing instruction, curriculum, and technology are highly recommended.  Courses in other areas may be taken in consultation with their advisors.  Please know that EDW courses will not count as electives in the Program.

III. Comprehensive Program Portfolio

As a summative evaluation, a comprehensive program portfolio is required. The portfolio will reflect the professional standards of the International Reading Association. Candidates must have completed all their reading courses or be enrolled in their final reading course in order to present their comprehensive portfolios.  Presentations will be made to graduate reading faculty three times during the year : in April (May graduation);  June (August graduation); and November (December graduation).

The Comprehensive Program Portfolio task and scoring guide were authored by Dr. Sandy Chambers and Dr. Mary Laub and reviewed and approved by the Graduate Reading Committee, plus recognized by the International Reading Association and National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Board of Examiners.  

IV. Completion of Reading Specialist Praxis Exam

In order to graduate, all candidates must take or provide proof of registration for the Reading Specialist Praxis Exam and have official scores on file at Kutztown University. In order to receive reading specialist certification, candidates must pass the Reading Specialist Praxis Exam.

Application for Graduation:

Application for graduation must be made through MyKU, following the directions provided.   Candidates should contact the Registrar's Office for questions. Please note that graduation (formal ceremony) occurs only in May and December.  However, recommendations to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for issuance of Reading Specialist Certification will be made upon completion of all requirements.  Also, for salary purposes, a letter can be sent to a school district indicating completion of program requirements.

Application for Certification:

The Pennsylvania Department of Education now requires that each candidate submit her/his application online using the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).   Application should be made after the completion of all requirements which includes obtaining a passing score on the Reading Specialist Praxis Exam and receiving your final GPA. How to apply for teacher certification

Widener Doctoral Program

  Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, in partnership with Widener University, has offered a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program in Reading and Language Arts.  For more information contact Dr. Sandy Chambers, Doctoral Program coordinator, at

Contact Person

Dr. Mary Laub, Coordinator, Graduate Reading Program

  • Office: 207A Beekey Education Center
  • Telephone: (610) 683-4271
  • E-mail:

Graduate Reading Faculty:

Dr. Jeanie Burnett
Dr. Sandy Chambers
Dr. Mary Ann O'Neil
Dr. Darlene Schoenly
Dr. Peter Seagreaves